|Texans have plenty of receiving options opposite Andre Johnson|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 22 August 2007 13:12|
They just don't know who it is yet, Johnson said, because several good candidates have emerged.
``I'm excited about it,'' Johnson said. ``It helps the team out a whole lot. It's great to have a bunch of guys that can make plays and have a lot of speed on the field.''
The leading contender is Kevin Walter. The fifth-year player entered training camp with the job, but rookie Jacoby Jones has challenged for the position.
Jones, a third-round pick out of Division II Lane College, leads the team with 79 yards receiving in the first two preseason games. The former track star has added 24 yards rushing on a pair of reverses and scored on an 80-yard punt return.
The Texans love Jones' confidence, which was evident when he said his small-school pedigree won't stop him from being a success in the NFL.
``No, because I know I can play,'' he said. ``Athletes are athletes. That's anybody from D-II, D-III, NAIA, wherever you're from. If you can play ball, you can play ball.''
Coach Gary Kubiak likes Walter, who had 17 catches for 160 yards last season, and thinks this could be his breakout year. But that won't stop him from giving Jones an opportunity.
``Kevin is our two. I think number 12 (Jones) is 2 1/2,'' Kubiak said. ``He's been playing pretty dang good. We're going to get him on the field somehow, some way. When we play three wides, he's the first one going out there.''
Walter has just one catch so far, but his 39-yarder is the second-longest for Houston this preseason.
``I think I had a good camp and I just want to keep improving and moving forward,'' Walter said. ``There's a lot of receivers we've got who can make plays, not only 'Dre but a lot of guys who can make plays now.''
Johnson made his second Pro Bowl last season after catching 103 passes for 1,147 yards, both career highs. He played opposite veteran Eric Moulds, who was released in the offseason.
He has been impressed with Jones so far and thinks his emergence will help Houston's offense.
``When you make plays every week, people have to worry about you,'' Johnson said. ``He's made some big plays for us the past two preseason games. If that's something that continues to happen, then you have no choice but to worry about him.''
The Texans also have third-year player Jerome Mathis, who missed most of last season with injuries after making the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2005. Mathis was healthy through camp and has shown flashes of his rookie form this preseason. He has three catches for 36 yards and returned a kickoff 78 yards in Houston's exhibition opener against Chicago.
First-year Texans Andre' Davis and 37-year-old Keenan McCardell round out the group of receivers. Davis had three strong seasons in Cleveland before playing mostly special teams for New England and Buffalo the past two years while dealing with injuries.
Kubiak said Davis is ``well on his way'' to making the team and that he'll get a lot of work in Houston's final preseason game against Tampa Bay next week.
A year after struggling to find healthy receivers to complement Johnson, the Texans have so much depth at the position that free agent Robert Ferguson passed on playing for his hometown team because he thought he'd get more playing time in Minnesota.
``It's amazing. Last year we knew it was an issue. We talked about it and how we had to get better,'' Kubiak said. ``The reason it got better really is because of work habits and giving young players a chance to get it done. You start to put that all together and it's a deeper, more well-conditioned group.''